Letter of the Law

Straight trees are cut first and honest people are screwed first

— Chanakya

I never liked the lead-in I left out of Chanakya’s quote:

A person should not be too honest . . .

Where is that line — and once you start calculating the cost of conviction, where does it end?

Rick’s the type of guy who would lose his job on principle

— CH (circa 2007)

September 30, 2020

I was fired today from a pretty high-paying job that I loved. I only mention the money because it bears on the price of principle and doing what’s right. I was surrounded by wonderful people worthy of my endless efforts to serve them.

All but one, anyway . . .

And that one is not just about this story, but the “one” who always ruins it for everybody. I know their kind, all too well. As I wrote long ago:

It never ceases to amaze me that companies coddle people who epitomize various forms of the lowest common denominator. Rather than inspire them to rise to standards set by others, the meticulous are asked to accommodate the careless. On top of all that, there seems to be a universal rolodex of excuses that gets spun to absolve those in question.

My problem-solving approach is pretty simple — and it all boils down to this question:

Wouldn’t it be better if we solved the root of the problem instead of spinning our wheels on the symptoms?

But that’s me . . .

I love Bill Belichick’s attitude on teamwork

The main point to me is that [the players] have to be coordinated, and the 10 people have to support what that 11th guy is doing, and vice versa. . . .

The only way that can happen is for there to be discipline, for everyone to be disciplined enough to do their job, knowing the guy beside him is doing his, too, so that you can count on him and he can count on you, and go right down the line. . . .

Rollo Tomassi was my manager — a know-it-all who actually does know quite a lot. But his ego (fragile and now fractured) — got in the way of reality in just how much he knows.

There’s a lot to like about the guy — and a lot not to.

The bit below is the opening paragraph of what led to my doom.

If it were possible to work and study 24 hours a day for the rest of my career, I’d never know as much as you in all the ground you cover. I have immense respect for your knowledge, and I long for the days when we have time to discuss web development again. I miss those conversations. But there’s a striking difference between my attitude and yours — as I’m keenly aware of how much I can learn from you.

Suffice it to say, the rest was not so pleasant.

Rollo was enraged by my letter that exposed him for who he really is.

I set out to keep my cool on our call that followed, but my on-tap disgust from decades of dealing with this bullshit just boiled over.

With the ease of one without conscience, Rollo rolled out one ludicrous excuse after another — absolving himself as though his record had disappeared off the face of the Earth.

To be sure, he tossed me a token or two about how he needs to work on this and that — as if his turbocharged hypersensitivity is just some fine-tuning knob to turn.

The likes of Rollo love to take one piece of information and isolate it in their interests — as if that’s the gold standard of sound argument. I’m a bit old-fashioned in how I like to consider things.

Let’s take two pieces of testimony and try to put them together

What you don’t understand is . . .

My God, the never-ending deflecting from this man. It was always about somebody else.

No, Rollo — you don’t understand . . .

How you respond to criticism can be life-altering . . .

And I would know — many times over

I took some boxing lessons a lifetime ago, and I remember watching the trainer pound a medicine ball into those who were seemingly glutton for punishment. While I was not aiming to become a boxer, I had every intention of taking the same blows. Before that day arrived, I had always imagined the pummeling as an agonizing workout, but it turned out to be quite exhilarating — a rite of passage of sorts.

All along it was just an illusion that I had created in my mind, and that fear was far worse than the reality.

The Teacher beats you with medicine to build up resistance that will ultimately protect you, but first you have to be willing to trust that he’s not out to crack your ribs. Even spur-of-the-moment debates on unimportant matters can be invaluable training when you enter the ring with sincerity.

Think of uncomfortable encounters as intellectual sparring to keep your mind in shape.

It was explained to me that, outside the Mission Control room, it could get downright heated . . . that it was allowed . . . that the NASA etiquette, allowed for screaming matches when it was about the work, when it was about solving the problem . . .

How could ya have a heartbeat and not be inspired by that?

It’s not often that a manager hears that he’s the biggest problem.

fact:

truth verifiable from experience or observation

I’m not advocating for heated discussions to hash out our concerns — but sometimes shit hits the fan. And if there’s no bottom to your intellectual dishonesty, as you sit there arguing in flagrantly bad faith — you’ve waived your right to pleasantries.

If you’re not gonna play by the rules, don’t cry foul when somebody drops the hammer on you.

And steel is strong because it knew the hammer and white heat

At least NASA’s argument-etiquette provided the freedom to tell people what you think . . .

Rollo has no such notion

And what pisses me off the most is how he sees himself as a model of open-mindedness and fact-based belief — never missing an opportunity to advertise his virtues. Not an atom of reflection was spent to recognize that the boasting doesn’t jibe with the record.

It’s astounding how the mind can pull off psychological gymnastics that allow us to believe what we say without any sense of accounting for it.

Well, I suggest you gentlemen invent a way to put a square peg in a round hole. Rapidly!

By the Charmin-soft standards of today, you can forget about having all the conveniences we take for granted. That level of excellence didn’t happen without some people going NASA from time to time — hammering it out with a purity of purpose.

And ya know what, most of ’em probably got right back to work the moment the argument was over, because true professionals have the ability to bounce back at a moment’s notice.

By the problem-solving standards of the “managers” in this story . . .

Apollo 13 would never have made it back

On second thought — they never would have gotten off the ground.

I’ve worked with the best and and I’ve worked with the worst — and damn near every brand in between. What binds the best is not that they get it all right — it’s their fortitude in the face of how they didn’t. They deal with problems directly and don’t pamper personalities.

They don’t run their shop like a daycare center. They mean business — and it shows.

Head Honcho (Rollo’s chief enabler/manager) had other ideas: Opting for the path of least resistance, courageously plugging away at their precious protocol . . . protecting the lie that Rollo lives.

And why not — when it’s so in vogue?

It’s not my first fight on the front lines of folly against those who mindlessly march to the cavalier cadence of phoning it in . . . 

You cannot be, I know, nor do I wish to see you, an inactive spectator. . . . We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.

— Abigail Adams (October 16, 1774)

Principle and I go way back: The Fraudulent 5

It’s of paramount importance to point out that there are pockets of excellence almost everywhere I’ve been — and that most certainly includes Elara. The railroading ways of the weak, pale in comparison to the stories of strength and resilience:

Exceptional people who elevated my life in ways I could never repay.

Inspired by Neil Young’s masterpiece below, long ago I created an evergrowing list of Unknown Legends — people who enlighten your life never knowing the full impact of their presence.

Somewhere on a desert highway
She rides a Harley-Davidson
Her long blonde hair flyin’ in the wind
She’s been runnin’ half her life
The chrome and steel she rides
Collidin’ with the very air she breathes
The air she breathes

With Ronstadt belting out backing vocals like she’s from another world — along with lyrics like “collidin’ with the very air she breathes” — there couldn’t be better song to honor the spirit of those on that list:

As they helped propel me in my purpose.

First time I ever heard that line, I was blown away — like every time since.

And it’s certainly symbolic for this story of absurdity — and all those I faced before it.

I was up to till 4:00 AM working for someone like that just a day ago. Caught some sleep and woke up to another one . . .

They’re the salt of the earth on sincerity and commitment — tirelessly working through things they shouldn’t have to.

I owe these people — always have, always will

Unlike Rollo, I feel a deep sense of duty to them. My job is to help make their jobs smoother and more efficient — providing information in useful ways so that they can build the business and keep it running while they’re at it.

Any obstacle impeding that progress should be dealt with decisively.

I don’t wanna create conflict by questioning leadership — I just want to go to work and do my thing.

But if these jokers can’t even deliver on the most basic fundamentals of management — and show at least a modicum of common sense and courage . . . now you’re in my way (and everyone else’s too).

MGMT 101 — Anyone? Anyone?

Adding insult to injury, is how they wrap themselves in window dressing — uplifting language, glossy PowerPoints, and decorated walls of empty claims, plaques, and platitudes.

I have no interest in working for people who congratulate themselves while standing on the banks of their river of waste.

On that note, it must be said that Rollo is the hardest working person I’ve ever seen. But for all his intellect, aptitude, and effort — he bulldozes his way through work in ways that flood that river.

It happened on one of them Zip-a-dee-doo-dah days

Good ol’ Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah — a Rollo with a twist that came to mind while describing her erratic behavior. I was really just thinking about how she zips through every discussion. I didn’t know at the time just how true to form the moniker would become.

The kids skipping to the tune of “Everything is ‘satisfactch’ll’” attitude of contentment syncs with the self-absorbed culture we’ve created.

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay
My, oh, my, what a wonderful day
Plenty of sunshine headin’ my way
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay!
Mister Bluebird’s on my shoulder
It’s the truth, it’s “actch’ll”
Everything is “satisfactch’ll”

Putting the angelic nature of it aside, the song is simply a caricature of how I see America being butchered to death by bullshit — an unyielding faith in baseless beliefs that’s beyond anything I could have imagined in my youth.

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah is a rare story in the mix — because it all started with me backing up somebody else. After all the years of nobody backing me, how could I sit there in silence when someone was on their own and in the right?

Job or no job — no way in hell could I live with that.

As I wrote on The Fraudulent 5:

The names of my nemeses are nowhere to be found on this site. I believe in having a sense of proportionality in my purpose, and broadcasting their identities on the internet seems over-the-top to me. They’re exposed on a sidewalk outside Gateway Village because it’s the scene of the crime, and it’s my only conduit to communicate with them. . . .

None of this would be necessary if The Fraudulent 5 had a notion of degree — and didn’t hide behind rules that allow you to boot somebody out the door on a whim.

Read all about it on You Are a Liar if you like

I cannot overstress — I LOVED Sally Beauty

Wonderful place, wonderful job, and wonderful people . . .

Except for their resident Rollo . . .

How Rollo could walk by this wall of ideals every day and fail to recognize that his ways are not remotely in line with those lovely words — is a blankness that defies description.

WALL OF WORDS

If you wanna play the “history” card right about now, take a number and get in line . . .

As I wrote in Jolly Ol’ Phil:

Peacemaker‘s behavior fits right into Festinger’s formula — as he used my “history” to find his friends blameless. It wouldn’t have bothered me had he spread his disapproval around. But it’s appalling to only criticize the person who was simply trying to have a conversation in the interest of truth.

As for my “history” — I’ve always clashed with our culture that increasingly values bullshit as currency.

For all those who ignore the elephant in the room while having no shortage of scrutiny for those who dare to ask:

Wouldn’t we be able to move around more freely without this elephant in the way?

There’s a name For Your kind — and it’s called “The Critic”

Here’s lookin’ at you, Head Honcho:

Just how blind and inept do you have to be to let egregious delays, mediocrity, and mounting frustration persist on multiple fronts — all revolving around one Rollo?

Jesus, the problem could not possibly be more obvious to anyone willing to look. You’ll never know (or even care) how farcical this fiasco was in my eyes.

Unknown Legend#1 was having to manually add up numbers because Rollo wouldn’t take 10 seconds to add subtotals to Tableau (after being repeatedly asked to do so).

Walking on eggshells with Rollo — one day I politely nudged him with the most delicate touch imaginable (the cloudlike fluff of “constructive” communication he lives for), asking, “Does your workbook have weeks now?”

I knew it didn’t . . .

So Rollo replies,

If that’s what they want

“If that’s what they want”?

Um, yeah — like on the crystal-clear requirements they provided over two months ago — and all the reminders, meetings, and needless niceties that followed.

After that, I went with another approach — thinking that Unknown Legend#1 might have a way to reach him. Since she was doing data validation, we thought that a blueprint for Rollo to follow might do the trick (spelling it out step by step).

That we had come to a point where she had to stay up till 10 or 11 at night writing out instructions for things that Rollo should have done a long time ago — was preposterous.

Amazingly, it worked — but why was it like pulling teeth in the first place?

Rollo’s behavior was nothing short of gross negligence — and I’m just warming up.

Almost 3 months into the project, he was still dickin’ around defining things on the fly that should have been understood early on. But Rollo was always off in his own world — putting reports out in the ether and expecting people to go exploring in search of his wisdom.

It doesn’t work that way — especially with those who have a clear vision in mind for what they want. His reports on that project were painfully slow — but instead of putting a temporary fix in place, Rollo was always broadcasting how he was going to rearchitect the database to solve the problem.

Listen, bub — they don’t give a damn about facts and dimensions, nor should they.

We’re sitting there wasting time in meetings while watching this thing spin — listening to Rollo remind us about how’s he’s gonna fix it (while week after week goes by as he doesn’t).

It was embarrassing

It would take me a matter of minutes to solve that performance problem — and same goes for him. But he wanted to do it his way — forcing our customers to wait while he “perfected” his design.

Not even in the earliest amateur hours of my career would I have insisted on something so senseless.

It was always about his way

In Rollo’s split-hairs personality disorder, he would seize on that statement to cite the most laughably lightweight evidence to claim that the exact opposite is true — brazenly ignoring the totality of his history.

By definition, this man is the biggest bullshitter I have ever known:

[B]ullshitters seek to convey a certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. They quietly change the rules governing their end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are irrelevant.

Rollo cast blame in every direction but his own. From one meeting to the next, if he wasn’t complaining about source-data issues being so inconvenient to his code, he was making excuses for something else.

One of my favorites is the day he proudly proclaimed, “I’m following the industry standard” in a report definition.

I was in no position to know whether he was right or not, but I do know that we have a responsibility to make sure that we’re on the same page as the business. That way they can make their case for their approach and Rollo can make his. And then we just figure out what’s best from there.

But we can’t do that if you’re off doing your own thing and making such assumptions.

Rollo was off doing his own thing — a lot

Barebones and unverified reports — leaving people hanging without providing the most obvious and easily-implemented features that they would want to make the reports useful.

Top-Brass#1 on Turnover said

Now, I know it’s not you and that we’ve got problems with the data.

The very first time I’m talking to her — and this is what she says before she even gets to “hello”? But for the sake of argument, let’s say it’s not the “conditioning that comes from you” that I claim.

Why do you think that “conditioning” is what instantly came to mind?

Rollo doesn’t ask those kind of questions — not with anything that could possibly put a dent his armor.

What you don’t understand is

Look around, Rollo — I understand an awful lot for someone who “doesn’t understand” as often as you sling your slogan.

When Top-Brass#2 on Turnover said, “I’m not pointing fingers, [Rollo]”—why do you think she said that?

Twice — in as many meetings

If somebody told me something like that, first thing I’d be doing is asking the source for pointblank honesty on what they felt when they said it. And with that in mind, I’d thank them and let them know that it will never happen again.

That would never occur to Rollo..

Trying to reach him is like playing dodgeball — for all the “Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive, and Dodge” goin’ on. I have never worked with anyone who goes so far to evade accountability.

And I’m betting that 100% of those who have ever spent real time working with him — know exactly what I’m talking about. They may not have seen it to the same degree I did, but guaranteed — it rings true.

Come on, you can say it, it’s okay, they know . . .

Even when no one’s even hinting that he’s at fault, Rollo perceives that they are—and gets defensive.

I had his ego pegged all along — as I have a knack for spotting Rollos right out of the gate:

The Skeletoes Situation

You’d never guess that a guy so incurious in the face of inquiry would be a member of Mensa — “the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world.” It’s all the more absurd when you consider that curiosity is at the core of Mensa’s mandate (smack-dab at the center of their universe):

That someone could so easily abandon the aptitude it took to qualify for that club exemplifies the power of pride.

It soon became obvious how he flagrantly gets away with his asinine antics. A guy like that becomes a company mascot, as everybody eventually buys into the belief that “he can’t help it — Patrick’s Patrick.” Such collective enabling reinforces his childlike view that anything goes because “I’m jolly ol’ Patrick.”

Head on over to You Are a Liar for the rest of the story, but for one point below that captures a key connection. When I raised some concerns within the first week on the job in The Skeletoes Situation, the manager said the following:

I was impressed with you in the interview — but now I’m tremendously impressed. I’m amazed that you figured all this out in 3 days.

Rollo’s insidious ego didn’t matter much in the early days at Elara — it was just an annoyance that I let slide in appreciation of his positive traits (of which they are many). He spent a lot of hours answering my questions about web development and advised me in any way he could — which I greatly appreciated. But while he loves to teach, he’s not very teachable — at least not when it comes to matters of management.

Rollo puts limits on what he’s willing to learn. I don’t.

First time I sent him an email on something I wasn’t pleased about, as instantly as he could possibly pick up the phone, I got the call. Off we were to our decline with the “I don’t like these type of emails” program.

And I’m thinkin’, “Here we go — one of these people.”

I was so hoping those days were over.

These comfort-seeking types fabricate reasons to reject what’s really being said — warping reality to manufacture their own.

I’m worlds apart from Rollo’s ways

If I were in a leadership role of any kind, I would tell my team to inform me of their concerns in any way that works for them: Text, email (10 pages or 1, whatever you need), voicemail, screaming, whispering, skywriting, harsh, soft, or anything in between.

I don’t care what it’s about, I don’t care who it’s about: If you’ve got somethin’ to say, don’t waste time trying to figure out how to fashion it for the likes of Rollo — just lay it on me.

And when I interviewed people — I would tell them:

If you can’t make me better, I don’t need ya

And I would let them know that I have no doubt that they can — that I’m sure they have something special to bring to the table that will sharpen my abilities in some way. But that I need people who have no fear in letting me know what that is — and that in my shop, “iron sharpens iron” is as real as it gets.

You are the top 1% of all naval aviators — the elite, the BEST of the best. We’ll make you better

None of the above is to suggest that form isn’t important, and I would cultivate an atmosphere of refinement in both form and substance. I’m just saying that substance would always matter more than form, and that I don’t want people getting too caught up in striking that balance.

Whatever other issues we would have under my direction, at least we’d have clarity — defining problems on the basis of reality, not self-serving perception.

With that call last year, Rollo set the tone that would ultimately bring about my end — of which I am relieved.

There’s only so much of this crap that I can stand — and as our team and workload grew, his weaknesses just exploded. He never adjusted or even tried to.

Very few people can handle being a full-blown developer and manager at the same time. One or the other roles suffers and it’s almost invariably both. But that problem is compounded many times over when you refuse to fully recognize your shortcomings.

We needed some more help on the backend or a top-notch business analyst to make the requirements-gathering smoother. I proposed the BA option earlier in the year — and he didn’t consider it for one second.

Worse than that was his logic-free counter as to why

I could be the BA — I could write up the requirements

The claim that you could do something — is meaningless when you’re not going to do that something (nor do I think that he should). The absurdity of it all reminded me of The Levels episode of Seinfeld.

Well of course it could be done. Anything could be done. But it is only is done if it’s done

That’s right, Rollo — I’ve been making fun of you for a long time. I needed levity like this to put up with your complaining, absolving, excusing, off-the-rails ego, and all the fragility and waste that comes with it.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. My need for levity was very real, but the truth is that I put up with him because he really is very talented and intelligent — and getting that job was like winning the lottery.

It was my ticket to endless opportunity

As part of my goal to get qualified enough to help out with web development at Elara, I’ve been studying the multiple platforms involved. Last year I came up with an idea for an application I wanted for a personal project of mine. My strategy was to use it as a conduit for learning — taking time to study the components along the way (and asking Rollo a bunch of questions to get his input).

Rollo was in his element — teaching and guiding someone with a thirst for his knowledge.

Those were great days — when it was just the two of us and we had time to talk like that. I cannot overstate that I’m not being critical of how times changed and that those days went away. The team grew with the growing needs of the company — and a whole new world of opportunity and wonderful people came with it.

To borrow from that beautiful line from Hoosiers:

That’s a hell of a team you had there

And I’m from Indiana, so there’s that

That web application I built is 75% done — and now I’ve got all kinds of time to finish it . . .

But there’s one part of the plan that won’t happen now. As I told Rollo last year, the idea was to build the application on my own — and then hand it over to him and have him tear it apart.

While I welcomed that input and eagerly awaited it, I would not accept his opinions simply by virtue of vast experience. All that means is that I wanna know what ya think — and why you would opt for this approach over that . . .

And I’ll carefully weigh that information on the merits — always the merits.

That comes into play for how all this came crashing down.

It’s important to note that I have some help from time to time when I’m struggling on that application. And I’d be screwed without the monumentally talented people on YouTube and other sites who show me the way when I’m lost.

They embody the best of what social media can be

Sure, some of them are making money through their instruction — but whether they are or not, there’s a passion in their purpose that’s just exquisite in my eyes.

They care — and it shows!

If you wanna operate with questionable billing practices and provide poor service, don’t hire me. . . .

They shot their mouths off about their atmosphere of excellence, but it was just another illusion . . . another lie.

Oakwood has some top-notch people — but their leaders are unworthy of them.

A lot of that goin’ around

In 2016, I was sitting in a room with my firing squad at Oakwood — as I was being terminated for “interrupting business practices.”

  • Essentially, they were overbilling a client — and I wouldn’t stand for it. The client verified my view by later telling me that they had been doing that for years. And yeah, I know it rings a bell with “mail fraud” in The Firm, but this really did happen. ;o) 
  • They sat there calm, cool, and collected — as the person who was incensed by their unethical behavior, was seen as the problem. I can still see the smugness on their faces.
  • Funny part was — I walked in, sat down, and within moments I was told that I was being terminated. I said, “OK!” — and got up to walk out. They’re like, “Whoa, wait a moment — we need to go through a couple things.”
  • They wanted me to sign their precious piece of paper (a condition to get whatever I had coming to me). I had no intention of signing — but I used every minute to rip them to shreds while they waited till I did.
  • When I was done — I crumbled it up, tossed it on the floor, and walked out the door.

Nobody could deliver this line better than Pacino — and it perfectly embodies my lifelong battle against those who defend the indefensible.

The cat . . . TOTALLY OUT OF THE BAG!

The notion that remaining calm equates to being aboveboard and reasonable — is an illusion.

Elara’s Rollo was issuing this copout from the get-go — priding himself on his calmness as he sails Scot-Free on his Sea of Chaos.

As I wrote a few years ago:

Their civility is a charade in their immovable contempt for correction — playing childish games that fit a formula designed to infuriate you (at which point they’ll pull the innocence card and haughtily condemn your tone).

That ploy pisses me off almost as much as the absurdity that led to it. And right on cue, Head Honcho hunkered down in his halo like his kin that came before him.

How they see themselves so upright is sickening.

A huge problem in IT is that you have a ton of technical people who have no business being managers. They end up in these slots because they gotta get promoted somehow, there’s a void to fill, or they’re connected to the person who put them there . . .

The good ol’ boy network of white-collar chaos

It’s bad enough that they don’t have the goods — what’s worse is that are utterly oblivious to the depths of their deficiencies. So they feel no sense of need to fill what they don’t believe to be missing.

It is hard to fill a cup which is already full

Even that wouldn’t be so bad if they showed some courage when someone comes along with big ideas about how to improve our operation — as you don’t treat them as a threat to your throne.

In Rollo’s case at Elara, that “threat” was not to his job, it’s the puncturing of the vacuum of how he sees himself. The Rollos of the world would rather cement their self-image for the rest of their lives than wake up and realize that they’ve been lying to themselves all along.

Rollo thought he had somethin’ when I asked him if he had proactively pursued leadership training. I could hear him ramping up to boast about how he had done this and that back in the day.

To which I said, “That makes it even worse — because you’re not applying that experience.

I was promised something and Elara didn’t deliver. It’s a great company packed with outstanding people — and I’m eternally grateful for my time there. But I was after something bigger than my immediate sphere of influence — and I made that pretty clear when I interviewed with Rollo and Head Honcho.

I wasn’t aiming for monetary gain in those goals, a feather in my cap, accolades of any kind, or some avenue of promotion.

As June Carter Cash was fond of saying

And I sure as hell can’t do that when I gotta deal with this goddamn drama.

These people and their sales pitch, I swear. They seem to think that simply by virtue of speaking the language that their set of standards will magically come true.

You’d think I’d know better by now, but I just can’t let go of that sliver of hope I hang onto.

To put company credos in comical terms, there’s that vintage My Cousin Vinny scene where he says, “You were serious about dat?” — in response to the judge reprimanding him once again for not looking lawyerly in his courtroom.

It’s not so funny when companies have that same look on their face when I hold them accountable to their claims:

What? You thought we actually meant all that stuff about higher standards, accountability, integrity, and iron sharpens iron?

Promissory estoppel . . .

A legal principle that a promise is enforceable by law, even if made without formal consideration, when a promisor has made a promise to a promisee who then relies on that promise to his subsequent detriment.

The double standards in our society are revolting — and this company-credos crap is all part of the same facade. I’m not as hardcore as I used to be (over two decades of ridiculous excuses took its toll).

I’ve had to continually lower my expectations of others if I wanted to continue in this career.

All I ask now is for people to be in the ballpark, but even that standard has been too much of a burden to some.

Companies come down with a case of collective amnesia when you have the nerve to wonder why their actions are so wildly off the mark from their so-called company values. They don’t care one bit that you took the job based on the standards they sold.

And what we do have for the guy who thinks accountability still matters?

We’re gonna turn you into the problem for not being more accommodating of our mediocrity.

I just have this old-fashioned idea that your claims should square with your record (or at least be reasonably in sync). But none of that matters anymore, as America has become a free-for-all for whatever you wanna believe, no matter how dumb, dishonest, or delusional. 

Somebody did a really nice job on that logo

I’m probably the only person who interviewed at Elara who brought up the origin of the name.

Elara is one of Jupiter’s moons, which has a unique orbit, according to a press release that the company issued Tuesday. The idea is that each patient and family has unique needs, and Elara Caring will meet those needs even when they do not match up with what is considered a “normal path.”

THAT — was ingenious!

It wasn’t that long ago — that despite my ongoing frustration, I still felt that I’d spend the rest of my career with this company. But Rollo crossed the line one too many times with me. My dream of having one tiny space in the world where people do right by one another was fading fast (as far as that place being Elara).

A text I sent to a friend on 9/25/2020

I haven’t brought this up before — but there’s another element to the story. I’ve never known anyone more disgusted by dishonesty than I am. And what I’ve seen from this guy — telling the team things that were flagrantly false — as his claims were exactly the opposite of my experience with him.

Most bad managers I’ve dealt with — did not go so far to advertise their virtues. So this was way beyond just incompetence, arrogance, and piss-poor leadership — it’s the lie of it all that infuriates me most.

There’s more to listening than not talking and waiting your turn — there’s taking information into account, processing it, factoring for this and that, and absorbing the totality of it along the way.

And that some semblance of what you say in response reflects that journey.

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

Fools, said I, you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

I wrote to Rollo on July 3rd to ask for some help by shifting my Tableau development to our experts. As maddening as I found that tool at times, I enjoyed the learning experience and was looking forward to more down the road.

I was buried on multiple fronts and could not afford the time I needed to devote to Tableau. But even if I could have gotten up to speed quicker, those guys can run circles around me. That’s their specialty and it’s what they love to do.

So why weren’t they doing that part of my projects in the first place?

You guessed it — Rollo Way

I remember the first time he floated his fantasy on how he was going to utilize the team. It didn’t make much sense then and it made a hell of a lot less later. But this is how motives can cloud judgment — because at that time, I wasn’t swamped and I wanted to learn Tableau anyway, so I went along without giving it much thought.

And believe it or not — I don’t question everything.

If it’s not a problem at the time, even if disagree with an approach — while I might inquire about it, I’m not gonna fuss over it. And after all, it is his team. But if you behave in a way that erodes my confidence in your ability to lead, and your actions and inaction cause major problems for all parties on a project — at some point, my patience is gonna run out.

I would add that it’s not just time and money at stake here — reputations are on the line.

End Run was a manager that we were supporting — and it bothered me a great deal that we were at fault for his project falling so far behind. And since the powers that be don’t seem to know jack about what’s going on in the trenches, it could be perceived that End Run wasn’t properly managing his project.

I don’t know what they thought — I just know that it’s wrong that he had to put up with so much mediocrity.

Such empathy would never cross Rollo’s mind.

Back to End Run in a bit . . .

Just Wondering for full text

I swear to God I just giggled over “just wondering”

If you can’t sense anything out of such fluffy language on a concern of this severity — I don’t know what to tell ya . . .

As for the highlighted line below:

You’ve been great in listening what I have to say, even when we’ve disagreed.

First off, that’s a soothing setup for the next line:

But you also set conditions on it—in that such conversations should only be done by phone. 

Secondly, outside of this ridiculous drama — Rollo and I got along great. So what would happen is that we would end up talking about other things almost instantly in the ways we bonded, and next thing ya know — we never addressed those problems.

I share some blame on that, because once you start having a good conversation — you don’t want to ruin it by bringing up the conflict. And we had a fantastic conversation on July 4th — but we skipped right over what was at issue. Naturally, the thought was that we’d get back to it later — but we never did.

My thinking was that maybe enough had been said anyway — so maybe we didn’t need to get back into it. That was a mistake (on my part as well). All I’m saying is if you take line one in isolation like that — you’re not only wrong, but that’s Rollo’s route.

By the way — what the hell does my happiness have to do with anything?

I’ve had it with this “having said that” horseshit in our culture — where ya gotta babysit your audience with pampering to pave the way for what you really wanna say.

In response to my request for some help, Rollo did what Rollo does — deflect the issue so that it doesn’t land on him.

I’m just trying to understand where you’re struggling.

Where I’m struggling?

Gee, I don’t know — maybe it’s the thought of working 7 days a week day and night all summer long, and still not being able come through for HR on Turnover in Tableau.

I just had this revolutionary idea that my colleagues and I could work in parallel on the same project — combining our expertise to provide the best product in a timely fashion.

I should be on a mountaintop in Tibet with such wisdom.

But not in Rollo’s parallel universe — as he wanted to take the entire the project off my plate, so he could plug these “full-stack developers” into his fantasyland formula — where we all run the gamut regardless of qualifications.

These guys excel in exactly what they were hired to do — and it’s in no way a criticism of them that they are not qualified to do the backend work on that project (nor was I qualified in their area of expertise).

I know this for a fact because I interviewed both of ’em — and I highly supported bringing them on for what Elara wanted them for.

So in Rollo’s infinite certitude, he would solve one constraint and create an even bigger one. The knowledge transfer alone would eat up the time that I could have just applied to doing Tableau (though nowhere nearly as good as they could). And no amount of KT can make up for the knowledge and experience that they don’t have.

All I care about is that my customers get what they need — so I asked for some help to make that happen. But in light of Rollo’s refusal to do the most sensible thing imaginable — I retracted my request.

Mysteriously, out of nowhere two months later — Rollo did exactly what I recommended in that email above. And lo and behold . . .

Book me a first-class ticket to Tibet

It was as smooth as can be — and had he done this back in July, I’d be on the road to retirement at Elara.

Nice Work!

Top brass on Turnover likely inspired this change — but I don’t care how it happened, I was just glad that it did.

What I find so fascinating is how he never acknowledged how well it was working out — even if only to say, “Ya know, I should have considered this sooner.”

This is not about credit — it’s about the importance of openly acknowledging mistakes. There are multiple examples throughout this site of me broadcasting my blunders over the years. With a lifetime of practice, it’s second nature to me: Elephant in the Room Award.

And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains . . .

beginning of the end